Monthly Archives: June 2011

JSNN co-sponsors seminar on supercomputing for nanotech and nanobiotech researchers

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering is giving nanotechnology researchers from universities and industry a rapid introduction to the state of supercomputing and practical guidance in moving forward.

“Leveraging Supercomputing in Nano/NanoBio Research” will be held Wednesday July 20, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gateway University Research Park, South Campus, 2901 East Lee Street, Suite 2200, in Greensboro. The JSNN is co-sponsoring the event with the Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology.

The seminar’s speakers are from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, a cyberinfrastructure partnership supported jointly by RPI, New York State, and IBM.  Details on the agenda.  Registration.

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Addressing a challenge in biomedical research: Too few African American male participants

African American males continue to have the highest age-adjusted mortality rate of any race-sex group in the United States. But research that could lower that death rate is often of limited reliability because of a shortage of African American men willing to participate in biomedical research studies. Researchers at N.C. A&T, Duke University and the University of Miami look into the reasons why and what can be done in the June issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association.

The higher death rate is attributable both to a variety of diseases, including diabetes, HIV, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, and to social and cultural factors.  “Distrust of the medical community, inadequate education, low socioeconomic status, social deprivation, and underutilized primary health care services all contribute to disproportionate health and health care outcomes among African Americans compared to their Caucasian counterparts,” the researchers report.

They found that African American males of all ages are willing to participate in several types of health-related research studies.  Their level of participation is “significantly influenced” by education level.  And it’s motivated by civic duty, monetary compensation and whether they or a relative has had the disease being studied.

“However, African American males, across all age groups, continue to report a lack of trust as a primary reason for their unwillingness to participate in biomedical research,” the article states.  That distrust is rooted in the men’s awareness of historical cases of research misconduct in which minorities were abused or exposed to racial discrimination or racist provocation. In addition, African American men continue to be less educated and more disenfranchised than white men and women and their African American female counterparts.

The authors’ solution is to look to the basics of relationship-building: communicate better and back your words with action.  “There is an ongoing need to continue to seek advice, improve communication, and design research studies that garner trust and improve participation among African American males as a targeted underrepresented population. Such communication and dialogues should occur at all age levels of research development to assess current attitudes and behaviors of African American males around participation.”

The article was written by Drs. Goldie S. Byrd (lead author), Vinaya A. Kelkar and Ruth G. Phillips of N.C. A&T; Dora Som Pim-Pong, Takiyah D. Starks, and Ashleigh L. Taylor, all of N.C. A&T; graduate student Jennifer R.  Byrd of N.C. A&T; undergraduate student Raechel E. McKinley of N.C. A&T; Dr. Christopher L. Edwards of Duke University; and Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance and graduate student Yi-Ju Li of the University of Miami.

The research was funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.  The article is available online at the journal’s website.

Proposals sought in energy, STEM, agriculture

Three new research funding opportunities of note:

  • Industrial Assessment Centers, Department of Energy. Closing Date: August 02, 2011. Cost Sharing or Matching: Yes. Twenty to 30 universities will be selected for a major workforce development initiative to prepare energy engineers with both engineering and energy management expertise, combined with hands-on experience working with small and medium-size industrial and manufacturing facilities. Details here.
  • New Scholars Program, Elsevier Foundation.  Deadline: September 1, 2011.  The New Scholars Program supports projects to help early- to mid-career female scientists balance family responsibilities with demanding academic careers. The Foundation provides one-, two- and three-year grants to STEM institutions actively working toward a more equitable academia. Details here.
  • Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.  Closing Date: July 08, 2011. The opportunity is to participate in the Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program (SCEP) with the People’s Republic of China. SCEP promotes agricultural cooperation, development, and trade.  Proposals are encouraged from Minority Serving Institutions and from early-career researchers, extension agents, and women at eligible institutions. Details here.

Reminders: Please file a Notice of Intent and enter your proposal’s basic information on RAMSeS as soon as possible. This allows DORED to schedule adequate time to process your proposal. Your proposal must be approved in RAMSeS and at Sponsored Programs before noon five business days before the due date.

Human trafficking victims and their children

Increasing attention is being paid to the issue of human trafficking in the United States and worldwide.  Once the victims are freed, however, their situations don’t necessarily receive as much attention.  This is particularly true of foreign-born survivors who are able to bring their children to the United States.

Dr. Maura Nsonwu, adjunct assistant professor of social work, has teamed with two faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin to study the needs of these women.  They presented their results in an article, “Human Trafficking Victims and Their Children: Assessing Needs, Vulnerabilities, Strengths, and Survivorship,” in the spring issue of the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk. (available online here).

In the study, nine victims of human trafficking were interviewed; seven were awaiting the arrival of their children in the United States or had recently been reunited with them. While the results aren’t generalizable to all trafficking victims and their children, “findings from this study are significant, and break ground with regard to our understanding of the needs of human trafficking victims and their immigrant children.  Therefore, findings may be applicable for practice and policy consideration in the human trafficking field.”

Dr. Nsonwu and her co-authors note that many foreign-born survivors are unable to return to their home countries “because of safety concerns and the wide reach of criminal trafficking networks.” The researchers identified a set of common themes in the women’s views of the emotional, social and bureaucratic challenges of reuniting with their children.  The women’s voices come through clearly in the article.  Their determination, hope and fears underline the message of Dr. Nsonwu and her colleagues that more needs to be known about these survivors and that policies and practices need to be developed that are as strong as the women’s own motivation to establish strong homes and lives for their children.

“When I found out that in this country I had support, actually in this country I felt safer and more supported than I ever did in my own country. That is why I love you all so much. I do not know everyone that helped me, but in my heart I love them all.”

DORED wears blue today for men’s health

The DORED staff gathers for a group photo with everyone wearing blue to promote Men's Health Month

The DORED staff: Looking good in blue to promote men's health.

The Division of Research and Economic Development is wearing blue today to raise awareness of men’s health.  The effort is part of Men’s Health Month, a national event that coincides with the International Men’s Health Week observance, which is this week.

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. To learn more about Men’s Health Month, visit the event’s website.

(Special thanks to Boyce Collins of the ERC for taking our picture!)

The N.C. A&T grant of the month for May: $500,000 for regional STEM collaborative

The Sponsored Funding Report for May:

N.C. A&T received 12 grants totaling $2.92 million in May.  The FY 2011 sponsored funding total stands at $44.97 million as of May 31.

One highlight of the month’s funding was $500,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation to Dr. Eui Park of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The project: North Carolina A&T State University Regional Collaborative for Excellence in STEM, a comprehensive program targeting the enhancement of STEM education and learning outcomes for middle school students in six eastern North Carolina counties: Bertie, Edgecombe, Gates, Martin Pitt, and Wilson.

The issue:  After communicating with the local school systems, we have concluded that most of their efforts in the middle schools are not STEM per se, but focused on math & science curriculum outside of the context of pathways to STEM careers. These schools appear to be at varying levels of readiness to implement a full-on integrated STEM curriculum, such as Project Lead the Way or Engineering in Education.

Abstract: We will develop the school systems’ readiness for integrated STEM curriculum through the professional development of teachers and principals. Professional development strategies will align classroom instruction and curriculum to state standards and the LEA’s Race to the Top goals. In addition, the process will create opportunities for community/parent engagement and expose communities and youth to STEM careers, making the connection between STEM and their lives. Most importantly, this project will connect middle school students with older students who can mentor and tutor in STEM subjects.

There are numerous STEM curriculum infusion programs offered by public and private entities. We are prepared to recommend a particular program to a school or learning community after working closely with the school and fully vetting programs against the local needs and assets.
Research, like that done for Lead the Way, clearly requires the buy-in of all stakeholders within the community to ensure positive outcomes.

The majority of funds will go to support LEA’s STEM curriculum development and teacher development. Implementing this program will cost the University in a time when funding is being reduced. We are committed to working with our constituents across the state of North Carolina and look forward to implementing best-practice in growing and promoting sustainable STEM education and industry.

The complete list of grants received in May (xlsx file).

Nanoengineering Ph.D. program approved

The UNC Board of Governors approved today A&T’s proposal to establish a Ph.D.program in nanoengineering.  The degree will be offered through the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.  A master’s degree in nanoengineering was previously approved, as were UNCG’s doctoral and master’s degree programs in nanoscience.  The initial News & Record report is here.  The News & Record coverage is here.